Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Doctor Who #99: Volcano

"Their greed for power is so great that they can be trusted."TECHNICAL SPECS: Part 8 of the Daleks' Master Plan. It is missing from the archives. I have used a reconstruction (Part 1, Part 2). First aired Jan.1 1966.

IN THIS ONE... The Daleks discover their taranium core is a fake, the TARDIS lands in the middle of a cricket game, and later, our heroes meet the Monk again on a volcanic planet.

REVIEW: More idling from this serial which could have clearly been half as long. The one plot point of any significance is that the Daleks test their time destructor and discover the taranium core is a fake. To do so, they sacrifice one of the delegates, Trantis, which makes me wonder what this galactic alliance is all about. Up to this point, the only thing the Daleks' allies have gotten out of the deal is summary execution. At this point, Mission to the Unknown is so far back, I have little idea what even the Daleks have to gain from allying with the various galaxies. Except for Mavic Chen, there doesn't seem to be anything they can provide except handy guinea pigs. Thankfully, the Daleks know how to deal with an awkward situation, so when Trantis doesn't die from the time destructor, they kill him outright.

Now that Spooner has taken over as the serial's writer, he reintroduces his own creation - the Meddling Monk. While I'm certainly happy to see Peter Butterworth again, this really only serves as a preview of the next episode. He and the Doctor shout at each other across ravines on a volcanic planet, the Monk frigs with the TARDIS' lock, and the Doctor magically repairs it with some technobabble nonsense. Nothing lost, nothing gained, time wasted, and having the Monk pursue the Doctor instead of the Daleks is merely another fake-out after a series of fake-outs. Some have called the trick with the Time Lord ring and the TARDIS lock a precursor to the sonic screwdriver, it's muddled by yet another astronomical confusion, unless we believe all the suns of a particular galaxy have the very properties needed to power the Doctor's ring.

And then there are the truly pointless bits. One quick trip to a cricket field during a game might make one smile from how deadpan the announcers are even though they've just witnessed a police box materialize and then dematerialize on the pitch. Kind of reminds me of a Monty Python sketch, but perhaps that's because I've never watched cricket. Since the TARDISeers don't disembark, it's just a silly diversion. And because the episode aired on New Year's Day, there's a quick trip to that date on Earth, with some holiday cheer and music in the background. At least the Doctor doesn't turn to the camera again.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - What is this? Christmas leftovers from The Feast of Steven?

3 comments:

Toby'c said...

"One quick trip to a cricket field during a game might make one smile from how deadpan the announcers are even though they've just witnessed a police box materialize and then dematerialize on the pitch. Kind of reminds me of a Monty Python sketch, but perhaps that's because I've never watched cricket."

What it reminds me of is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Specifically, the third one Life, the Universe and Everything, in the chapter where Arthur and Ford return to 20th century England on a time traveling Chesterfield sofa. They land on Lord's Cricket Ground during the last day of the Ashes, but the commentators only barely react.

Appropriate, since that book was originally conceived as a Doctor Who story.

snell said...

"Up to this point, the only thing the Daleks' allies have gotten out of the deal is summary execution."

Isn't that all the Daleks' allies EVER get? It's hard to imagine why, given their history, anyone would ally with them..."Hey, maybe I'll be the first partner they don't turn on and kill!! I like them odds!"

Siskoid said...

Toby: Oh yeah, I remember that (been a while, like decades). Of all the Doctor Who stories to take inspiration from though...

Snell: I think everyone imagines they can screw with the Daleks in the end. Their ridiculous appearance works for them in this instance.